Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Positive Changes for the New Year: Resolutions for Families

The New Year is a time when many people reflect on what’s been going well, and also think about small changes they might like to make to improve their health and wellness. You’ve likely got a thing or two in mind for your own self-care goals. Along with these, think about picking an item that your family can work on together as well. It’s more fun to work as a team, and you can encourage each other along the way to creating healthier habits.

Last year, Dr. Mollie Grow told us about making SMART resolutions (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). This year, she’s offering more ideas for families to consider as they take steps for better health, safety and wellness in 2016.

“The New Year is a great time to reflect on our values and priorities as a family and look for ways to act these out in daily life,” Grow said. Read full post »

Helping Kids Cope With Holiday Blues

Holiday DangersThe holidays can be a particularly blue time of the year for people, including children and teenagers. The darker days of winter can bring about a gloomy mood and the hype of the holidays can set unrealistic expectations for children. There are many reasons children may feel sad or anxious around the holidays, including added stress around having to be with one or the other parent (not both), in cases of divorced families, or coping with the loss of a loved one who recently passed away.

To help kids cope with sadness around the holidays, Dr. Elizabeth McCauley, associate director of Seattle Children’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, offers some advice on how to keep those blues at bay. Read full post »

Study: Teens Use Covert Self-harm Hashtags on Instagram That Escape Content Advisory Filters

Dr. Megan Moreno found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels.

Teens on social media post about their comings and goings—pictures, videos, music and news. But according to a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, some teens are using stealthy hashtags and secret languages on Instagram, a popular picture-sharing app, to create online self-harm communities and trends that encourage dangerous behavior. By doing so, they circumvent Instagram safeguards for self-harm and other dangerous material.

The new research illustrates what content is present on Instagram and details how parents or concerned adults can decipher the meaning of unclear terms they see on their teens’ profiles.

Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine physician who studies social media and adolescent health at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels. Despite the social media app’s attempts to discourage the posts by providing warnings and blocking certain hashtags, adolescent users continued the conversations by developing new hashtags.

“We found that only one third of self-harm hashtags on Instagram generated warning labels,” Moreno said. “Adolescents’ use of unusual terms, such as ‘blithe’ and odd spellings such as ‘self-harmmm,’ allowed them to subvert detection and warning labels.” Read full post »

Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes

Temperatures are dropping and snow is beginning to accumulate on mountaintops across the country. It’s that time of year again; time to dust off those skis or snowboards and hit the slopes. But before hopping on the chair lift, parents should talk to their kids about safety.

Winter sports, although fun, come with inherent risks – cold temperatures, potentially rugged terrain and the possibility of serious injury. Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of Emergency Services at Seattle Children’s, offers tips to help kids enjoy the slopes safely.

“Safety starts with anticipating risk,” said Woodward. “When you don’t anticipate risk, you aren’t putting yourself in the best situation, and that’s when injury can occur.”
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Safe Holiday Toys: What Parents Should Look For When Choosing Gifts For Kids

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says wood toys are a better choice than plastic for babies and toddlers who put things in their mouths.

While families shop for fun toys this holiday season, they should also make sure those toys are safe. On the Pulse sat down with Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician and expert in children’s environmental health, to talk about safety in children’s toys and what to look for in gifts for little ones.

Q: Are there materials that parents should avoid for babies and toddlers?

A: Babies and toddlers put a lot of things in their mouths, so plastics are not a good choice for little ones ages 0-3. Plasticizers expose kids to man-made chemicals that affect hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These chemicals can potentially interfere with normal growth and brain development. Children have higher intakes of these chemicals compared to adults because of behaviors like putting things in their mouths and breathing faster than adults. Read full post »

Antibiotic Resistance: Too Much of a Good Thing

ThinkstockPhotos-103583538Antibiotics improve our lives in innumerable ways, but there is growing concern that their overuse is increasingly exposing the public to drug-resistant bacteria. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

“In many ways, antibiotics are victims of their own success,” said Dr. Scott Weissman, an infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “When antibiotics first came into being in the 1940’s, they were hailed as miraculous, and they were, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is observing its annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. During this time, the CDC, along with other healthcare organizations and partners, is highlighting the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Weissman, a nationally-known expert who is in Washington D.C. participating in some of the events for Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, took time to answer some questions about what antibiotic resistance is, and what we can do about it.

What are the current recommendations for giving antibiotics to children?

First off, there is no single solution or strategy that is right for every situation. Antibiotics should be given only when they are necessary, but I think we can all agree that the standard practice of many providers has been far less disciplined. This has led many to view receiving a prescription for antibiotics as the expectation of a doctor’s visit, rather than the exception.

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Screen Time, Holiday Time, Family Time: Tips For Parents On Tech Toys This Holiday Season

Dr. Dimitri Christakis says not all screen time is bad for children, but it’s important to be familiar with the content and manage the time kids spend on screen toys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it is revising recommended screen time guidelines for kids. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers parents advice on how to manage screen time and what to consider when shopping for children this holiday season.

Q: What should parents make of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decision to revise screen time guidelines?
A: This is an acknowledgement that for kids growing up today, screen time is a constant part of their lives: At home, at school, when visiting friends, on the airplane, in cars. Digital products have permeated every part of kids’ days, so the revised guidelines ought to help families manage digital engagement.

The good news is that not all screen time is bad. But it’s important for parents to understand that kids are going through critical cognitive, social and emotional developmental phases, and screen time influences that development. Read full post »

New Research Shows That Risky Drinking Spikes When Young Adults Study Abroad

Researchers found that drinking-related posts on Facebook increased among students studying abroad, especially for those who went to Europe.

Studying abroad is a formative educational opportunity for many young adults, myself included. My time in French Polynesia last summer as a junior in college changed my outlook on the world and made me a better student, friend and daughter. But I also know from experience that studying abroad can also be problematic for some who might take the newfound freedom a little too far.

Underage and excessive drinking was something I witnessed, and according to new data from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where I volunteer with the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT), underage and excessive drinking is often a key part of the study abroad experience, especially for those who went to Europe.

Researchers found that drinking-related posts on Facebook increased among students studying abroad, especially for those who went to Europe. Read full post »

Flu Vaccine Matters for Children and Parents Alike

Flu Season AheadEach year in the United States alone, 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to complications from the flu. In 2014, influenza claimed the lives of more than 140 children; half of whom were healthy and had not been vaccinated.

“It’s important for everyone – especially children – to get a flu shot every year,” said Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a member of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Below, Kronman answers some common questions related to the flu and flu shots.

Why is the flu dangerous? What happens to make it deadly?

Influenza by its very nature can cause infection and inflammation in the lungs, making it very difficult for some people to breathe. Add to this that people with influenza can be at risk of having a secondary bacterial infection on top of their influenza, and that sometimes the immune response to an influenza infection is overly robust to the point of causing damage itself, and it becomes clear how influenza can cause serious and even life-threatening infections. Fortunately, we have a vaccine annually that can help protect us from this severe infection!

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Is it Growing Pains or Something More?

Many kids can relate to the unpleasant experience of growing pains – they come on at night and can cause sharp, shooting, as well as dull and nagging pain. But what people may not know is what causes them, why do they affect some children and not others, and most importantly, when should parents be concerned that they could be something much more serious?

Dr. Suzanne Marie Yandow, chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, answers these common questions below.

What causes growing pains?

The direct cause of growing pains is unknown, but they typically present in children 3 to 5 years of age and may persist much later in some cases in kids ages 8 to 12. Some studies have shown that more than one out of three children displays symptoms at some point in their lives, and the symptoms most often arise during periods of rapid growth.

What are the common symptoms?

Growing pains often come on in the evening and at night, and the pain is usually in the muscles rather than the joints. This pain usually presents bilaterally, meaning the pain will occur in both legs, rather than just one or the other. Frequently they are present in the front of the legs or shin area.

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